Boys and Girls Club

Tara Tucker wants to use her experience as a small business owner to begin a Surprise chapter of the Boys and Girls Club.

Dave Martinez/Daily News-Sun

A community initiative is under way to bring a Boys and Girls Club to Surprise.

During the past six months, Surprise resident Tara Tucker has reached out to city and Boys and Girls Club officials to find out whether money can be raised and ground can be broken on a 25,000-square-foot facility that would serve an ever-growing population.

Surprise is getting bigger and younger. The city’s population boomed during the past decade, making it the 10th-largest city in the state. Nearly 118,000 people now call Surprise home.

As more young families move to Surprise, Tucker said she believes opportunities in athletics, fine arts, leadership, delinquency prevention, and computers and technology must be available so families do not have to travel long distances after school for their children to socialize and learn important life lessons.

“With the growth Surprise has seen during the past decade, we’ve seen a stalemate in options for kids,” she said, noting the newly released census figures demonstrate the need.

Brad Kuluris, Boys and Girls Club of Metropolitan Phoenix chief operations officer and vice president of advancement, said Tucker and other community volunteers have reached out to him about how to go about establishing a local branch.

At this point, Kuluris said the community-driven project is still in its infancy and that “specific funding criterion” must be met to pursue such an endeavor.

“Kids and teens in underserved areas often have limited options with respect to how they spend their out-of-school time,” Kuluris stated in an e-mail. “The Boys & Girls Clubs play a critical role in helping young people develop the tools they need to become successful adults.”

Interim City Manager Mark Coronado said city officials have been contacted as an informational resource for the project and are observing from afar to help in any way necessary.

Calling it an intriguing endeavor, Coronado commened Tucker for going it almost entirely alone and not asking Surprise for land and capital, but rather just general support, knowing that some of the activities provided by the Boys and Girls Club are also offered by the city.

Tucker hopes to soon form a steering committee, whose members would discuss how the proposed facility could be funded and constructed within three to five years.

In addition, a town hall meeting will take place at 7 p.m. April 13 at Carden Traditional School, 15688 W. Acoma Drive, to inform Surprise and Sun Cities residents about the proposed Boys and Girls Club and what steps are taking place to make it a reality.

Several sites have been identified for the Boys and Girls Club, including an area by Surprise Stadium. Area church leaders say they’re willing to donate land to the cause.

A Facebook page called “Boys and Girls Club of Surprise Project” has been set up for residents to keep up to date about discussions. Residents can also e-mail tara_tucker@cox.net for more information and to become involved.

Zach Colick can be reached at 623-876-2522 or zcolick@yourwestvalley.com.

 

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